Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Opening Statement of Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. “Adoption of the Committee Authorization and Oversight Plan” House Committee on the Judiciary

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The “Authorization and Oversight Plan” before us this morning is not binding on the Committee.  It is, instead, an informal outline of our oversight priorities for the Congress to come.

Mr. Chairman, I want you to know that I have always appreciated both your effort—and that of your staff—to reach consensus on the Committee’s oversight plan. Unfortunately, I fear that there are several urgent matters within our jurisdiction that will not be discussed on a timely basis if we do not bring them up today.

For example, on November 30, 2016, every Democratic member of this Committee wrote you to ask for hearings on the many conflict-of-interest statutes that—notwithstanding the President’s claims otherwise—apply to President Trump, his family, and members of his cabinet. On January 12, 2017, every Democratic member of this Committee wrote again to renew our request in the new Congress. 

To date, however, no such hearings have been scheduled.  We must discuss this problem, and we will begin to do so today.

Similarly, the Majority has been conspicuously silent with respect to report after report connecting various figures in the President’s inner circle to the government of Vladimir Putin.

The FBI is the lead agency on any criminal or counterintelligence operation that may or may not be aimed at President Trump and his associates. We already know the unanimous conclusion of the Intelligence Community: Russia engaged in a massive campaign to influence the last election, and to tilt the outcome in favor of President Trump.

And we learned earlier this week that the Department of Justice played a lead role in notifying White House counsel that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had lied about his contact with the Russian Ambassador about sanctions imposed by the Obama Administration in response to Russia’s interference in the election.
The fact that General Flynn has resigned does little to resolve a number of questions that this Committee has a responsibility to ask—especially after last night’s revelation that the Trump campaign was in direct communication with Russian intelligence operatives—and we will begin to ask some of those questions today.

On these and other matters, I look forward to our robust discussion today.  I thank the Chairman, and I yield back.

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